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The end of a myth: resistance training is effective for weight loss

Lifestyle changes and an eating plan are considered the cornerstone of obesity treatment. Several guidelines recommend exercise, dietary, and behavioral interventions to improve weight loss in this population. In terms of physical activity, aerobic exercise is usually recommended as the main activity. That is, activity that involves large muscle groups and is performed continuously or intermittently over a long period of time, such as bicycling, swimming, jogging, or running. Whereas resistance exercise (ie, anabolic exercise such as performing repeated sets of movements) has been considered less effective due to insufficient evidence on effects on reducing body weight or body mass index (BMI).

Now, however, new research has revealed that individuals struggling with their weight and unable to do cardio can hit the gym and still see positive results. Despite the widespread perception that cardio is important for weight loss, an Edith Cowan University (ECU) study conducted at the Training Drug Review Institute (EMRI) found that resistance training can also have results positive, in addition to reducing the consumption of calories.

Lead researcher and doctoral student Pedro López said the findings, published in the journal Obesity Review, confirmed that resistance training can have a major impact on fat mass, muscle mass, and weight loss.

“Usually when we talk about obesity, body composition or weight loss, we only hear about cardiovascular exercises,” he said. This article reveals that we can use resistance training and get significant results with an eating plan based primarily on caloric discount. We can reduce body fat ratio, total body fat mass, body weight and BMI. When you look at the literature, these results are very similar to calorie-restricted cardio training in overweight or obese adults.”

In this sense, López said that it was necessary for people struggling with weight to have options beyond cardiovascular exercise. “This group may also be uncomfortable with the prospect of 30 or 40 minutes on a treadmill or bike,” he said. They will injure their knees, joints, ligaments, among other risks, because they have to support the full weight of their body during the practice of many cardiovascular exercises. The specialist indicated that, according to his analysis, “resistance training also compromises other important aspects when it comes to losing weight, such as developing or preserving muscle mass. The study also showed that resistance training was effective in preventing loss of muscle mass by lowering the lower caloric level consumed.”

Interventions involving resistance training and caloric restriction were the most effective in reducing body fat percentage and total body fat mass compared to no-intervention groups. Significant results were also seen after combined strength and aerobic exercise and strength training alone compared to untrained control participants.

Strength training alone was the most effective in increasing lean mass compared to untrained controls, while lean mass was maintained after interventions that included strength training and caloric restriction. Results were consistently observed across all age and gender groups. Reductions in localized adiposity and body weight measures were also observed after combined resistance and aerobic exercises and programs that included caloric restriction.

However, the specialists insisted that the research is not focused on making a comparison between cardiovascular and resistance exercise. No matter what individuals are involved, “if you want to adjust your weight, it is important to reduce your calorie intake -continues the specialist-. However, in conclusion, this study provides evidence that resistance exercise programs are effective and should be considered within any multicomponent therapy program when caloric restriction is used in people who are overweight or obese”, López concluded.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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